By John Zenor, onlineathens.com:
Maybe Alabama and Auburn had something else on their minds entering the Iron Bowl warmup acts, like each other. It took both teams some time to get going against FCS teams on Saturday. Now, the second-ranked Crimson Tide and 15th-ranked Tigers can turn their focus exclusively to the rivalry — already a hot topic year-round among fans in the state. “It’s the biggest college rivalry in history, so of course you’re going to want to have fun and do the things you’ve got to do to prepare for it,” Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland said.
By Brandon Marcello, al.com:
Alabama is the favorite in the Iron Bowl, but Auburn is not as big of an underdog as it was last season. Auburn opened Sunday as a 7-point underdog, according to VegasInsider.com, but the line moved up to 9.5 in the evening. Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC) entered a road trip at Auburn (7-3, 4-3) last season as a 9.5-point favorite after opening as a 10-point favorite inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tide was ranked No. 1 and Auburn was fourth nationally entering the Mother of All Iron Bowls in 2013.
By David Paschall, timesfreepress.com:
There has been great anticipation for Saturday night’s Iron Bowl ever since Auburn cornerback Chris Davis raced the length of the field last November to deliver the Tigers to a stunning 34-28 triumph at a delirious Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Crimson Tide and Tigers appeared to daydream about their impending rematch in Tuscaloosa for much of this past weekend instead of focusing on their tasks at hand. Alabama and Auburn fell behind Championship Subdivision opponents Saturday before regrouping and pulling away, with the Tide downing Western Carolina 48-14 and the Tigers dumping Samford 31-7.
By Barrett Sallee, Athlon Sports:
A wide receiver legitimately contending for the Heisman Trophy seems more like fiction than reality, but if there’s any receiver who deserves to be in that conversation this year, it’s Alabama junior Amari Cooper. The 6’1″, 210-pound junior from Miami has 90 catches for 1,349 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, with 46 of those yards coming on three catches in the 48-14 tune-up win over Western Carolina on Saturday. His 3,085 career receiving yards are an Alabama record, and those three catches bring him to 194 for his career—tied with D.J. Hall for the most in program history. He left the game Saturday with a bruised knee, but head coach Nick Saban said that his absence was just a precaution.
By Sean Frye, Athlon Sports:
Do slow starts happen, sometimes to even the best of the best? Of course. Do the great teams find ways to overcome them? You bet. But the fact that Alabama, which beat Western Carolina 48-14 on Saturday, fell behind 7-0 early in the first quarter and was leading just 17-14 with under seven minutes to play in the first half, is at least to some degree disconcerting one week before the Iron Bowl. That kind of slow start against the Tigers will see the Tide down two scores, and 38 first-half points probably aren’t going to come against Auburn. So what was behind Alabama’s slow start on Saturday? Well, the Catamounts mounted an impressive opening drive to start the game, going 75 yards in nine plays in just three seconds over three minutes to take a 7-0 lead.
By Duane Rankin, Montgomery Advertiser:
Alabama should have a different outlook approaching this year’s Iron Bowl. Last season, the Crimson Tide entered the rivalry game as the two-time defending national champions who had outscored Auburn, 91-21, in its previous two encounters. This season, the Tide is 10-1 after its 48-14 victory Saturday over FCS school Western Carolina, but what happened last year in Auburn should have it foaming at the mouth to get ready for next week’s game. “You want to beat them after what happened last year,” Alabama junior linebacker Reggie Ragland said. “You’ve got to come in and have the right mindset throughout the whole week, watch film and do the things you’ve got to do to prepare well for this game.”
By Andrew Gribble, al.com:
The big arm’s still there. Nothing’s changed about that. It’s everything else about Alabama backup quarterback Jacob Coker that’s coming along as his first season with the program hits the home stretch. Even without many game opportunities, Coker’s made steady improvement, coach Nick Saban said Saturday after the Florida State transfer logged his most playing time since Alabama’s second game of the season. “Jake’s done a really good job,” Saban said after the Crimson Tide’s 48-14 win over Western Carolina. “He’s been a great team guy, been very supportive of the other players. He does a really good job of trying to prepare for the game knowing that his opportunity could come at any time.”
by Cliff Sims, Yellow Hammer News:
Western Carolina head football coach Mark Speir had something he needed to get off his chest during the post game press conference after his Catamounts fell 48-14 to top-ranked Alabama on Saturday. Earlier in the day during ESPN’S College GameDay, analyst Kirk Herbstreit, a former college quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, criticized several SEC schools for playing FCS teams this week, even going as far as to call it “embarrassing.” Speir, whose squad had been paid $480,000 to play Alabama, took exception to the comment. He said games like these help FCS schools fund their entire athletic department and give opportunities to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to go to college.
The Sports Network:
Derrick Henry scored three touchdowns to help No. 2 Alabama to a 48-14 win over Western Carolina on Saturday. Henry rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns and added a 9-yard touchdown catch for the Crimson Tide (10-1), who took a break from their SEC schedule with an FCS opponent prior to next week’s Iron Bowl against arch-rival Auburn. Blake Sims was 17-of-25 passing for 222 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the win. Alabama star wide receiver Amari Cooper left the game with an apparent left knee injury after taking a hard hit in the first quarter. Cooper had three receptions for 46 yards. Chris Black took over in his absence and hauled in six passes for 101 yards.